After weathering the lineup rumblings that brought bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur into the fold and put drummer Jimmy Chamberlin back behind the kit, the Smashing Pumpkins returned to stores this week with its fifth studio album, "Machina/The Machines Of God."

Original bassist D'Arcy Wretzky left the Pumpkins in September after completing work on "Machina," and was replaced a few months later by Auf Der Maur, who split from Hole in October and made her live debut with the Pumpkins in December (see "Smashing Pumpkins To Unveil Auf Der Maur At Hometown Shows").

As for Chamberlin, he returned to the Pumpkins in early 1999 to work on "Machina" after being bounced from the band in 1996 for his involvement in the fatal overdose of touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin (see "Jimmy Chamberlin Back With Smashing Pumpkins").

Despite the state of flux that seemed to surround the Smashing Pumpkins last year, frontman Billy Corgan said that the new music on "Machina" was anything but arduous or demanding to work on.

"This record was a lot of fun to do," Corgan said in a recent interview, "and the writing was incredibly easy. We spent most of the time trying to take the songs as far as they could be taken down a particular avenue.

"So if it was gonna be proto cyber metal, we tried to make it very proto and very cyber. If it was acoustic, then we tried to not fall into the [typical] ballad-y kind of aspects. That's where we spent most of our time. The songs were probably written in about a day." [RealVideo]

"Machina/The Machines Of God" also marks the return of the band's guitar-zeitgeist driven sound that featured so prominently on 1993's "Siamese Dream" and 1995's "Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness."

The Pumpkins opted to turn down the volume for 1998's elegiac "Adore," and Corgan was quick to note that in the interim, the band didn't spawn the kinds of imitators that other early '90s groups, such as Pearl Jam, did.

"Well, I also don't think that we're the type of band that people look at and say, 'I want to grow up to be just like that.'" Corgan said. "I mean, we're like a train wreck. We're the greatest train wreck in the world, but the gloriousness in what we do is in the soulful penetration part.

"It's not about copping a pose, or it's not about being cooler than thou. It's never been about that." [RealVideo]

The Smashing Pumpkins are presently on a promotional in-store tour that rolls into Minneapolis and Los Angeles over the weekend. The band's publicists indicate that more dates will be added to the outing, which is currently scheduled through a March 7 appearance in Seattle.

On March 9, the Smashing Pumpkins will be in MTV's Times Square Studios for "@MTV Week." During the group's special, which will air at 4:30 p.m. (ET), the Pumpkins will perform live and premiere the interactive video to "The Crying Tree Of Mercury," a clip directed by Corgan.